For the second straight night on Wednesday, Mets manager Mickey Callaway put J.D. Davis in the lineup at third base against a righthander, which led to a chain reaction that sent Jeff McNeil to leftfield, Brandon Nimmo to center and kept Juan Lagares and Keon Broxton on the bench against the Twins
The Mets are carrying both Lagares and Broxton even though the two righthanded-hitting outfielders have similar skillsets. Both are excellent defensive centerfielders and the Mets lose something on defense when they play Nimmo in center and McNeil — an infielder by trade — in left.
Davis went into Wednesday batting .286 with two home runs and four RBIs.
Lagares is making $9 million in the final year of a four-year, $23 million contract extension he signed in 2015. He is tied with Jacob deGrom and Todd Frazier as the fourth-highest paid Mets this season.
Sandy Alderson, the general manager at the time, said of Lagares after he agreed to the extension: “He's shown that he can play great defense and still carry a bat sufficiently to stay in the lineup. From that standpoint, he's moving toward becoming a complete player."
Injuries and poor performance have turned Lagares’ contract into a bit of an albatross. The 30-year-old has a $9.5 million option for 2020 that the Mets surely will decline, making him a free agent. Lagares went into Wednesday batting .158 (3-for-19).
Current general manager Brodie Van Wagenen added Broxton in January in a trade with Milwaukee. The 28-year-old is out of options and cannot be sent to the minors without passing through waivers. He was 4-for-13 (.308) going into Wednesday.
Callaway said it’s going to be a challenge to get playing time for both.
“Sitting in my office mapping that out with a few of the guys today, they’re going to get their playing time,” Callaway said. “It’s always a delicate balance trying to keep guys where they need to be to come help us out and making sure that we rest people appropriately, make sure that guys are locked in mentally and physically to be able to come and help us.
"But yeah, it’s going to be a challenge. We’re going to kind of embrace it and try to keep everybody as locked in as possible and still win as many games as we possibly can because the bottom line is we’ve got to win games. If somebody has to sit for us to win a game, that’s just how this game is built and that’s what we’ll do.”
Callaway will have to wrestle with more lineup decisions when Todd Frazier returns from his rehab assignment, perhaps as soon as on the 10-game road trip that begins Thursday in Atlanta. Frazier took Wednesday off after playing nine innings for Class A St. Lucie on Tuesday.
Frazier played the first four innings of that game at shortstop, a position he has not played in the majors since 2011 (and then for only three innings over two games).
“He got through it,” Callaway said. “I didn’t get very detailed reports on how he played short, but we just need him to go out there and stand out there in an emergency.”
The Mets are facing a roster squeeze when Frazier returns from the strained left oblique that has delayed his season. Since the Mets seem to be committed to keeping Lagares and Broxton — but not to playing either of them— the most likely player to be sent down when Frazier is ready is infielder Luis Guillorme, who is the only true backup shortstop on the roster.
Oswalt recalled. Before the game, the Mets recalled righthander Corey Oswalt from Triple-A Syracuse and sent down righthander Tim Peterson. The team wanted a reliever who could give them multiple innings after the staff gave up 26 runs in the previous two games.